MicroRNA: an overview of its role in the regulation of gene expression (2023)

microARNIt is a non-coding RNA that plays a role in the regulation of gene expression. The vast majority of microRNAs are transcribed from DNA sequences into primary microRNAs, which are then processed into precursor microRNAs and then mature microRNAs.

In most cases, it binds to 3'UTR target mRNAs, affects translation and mRNA stability, and leads to mRNA degradation and translation repression. However, microRNAs have been shown to interact with other regions, such as 5' UTRs, coding sequences, and gene promoters.

Under certain circumstances, microRNAs can also initiate translation or control transcription. The interaction between microRNAs and their target genes is dynamic. It is influenced by several parameters, including the subcellular localization of microRNA, the abundance of target microRNA and mRNA, and the affinity of the microRNA-mRNA interaction.

MicroRNAs can be released into the extracellular fluid and delivered to target cells via vesicles such as exosomes or by binding to proteins such as Argonautes. Extracellular microRNAs act as chemical messengers that allow cells to communicate with each other.

microRNA biogenesis

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microRNA biogenesisIt begins with post-transcriptional or co-transcriptional processing of RNA polymerase II/III transcripts. Approximately half of all microRNAs discovered so far are intragenic, mainly transcribed from introns and exons of some protein-coding genes, while the rest are intergenic, produced independently of host genes and under the control of their promoters.

Sometimes microRNAs have been transcribed into long single transcripts, called clusters, which may contain comparable seed regions, known as a family. MicroRNA biogenesis is divided into canonical and non-canonical pathways.

  • standardized form:The classical biogenesis pathway is the major pathway for microRNA processing. In this pathway, pri-microRNAs are transcribed from your genes and then processed into pre-microRNAs by the microprocessor complex. This processing involves removal of terminal loops, resulting in mature microRNA duplexes. The orientation of the microRNA strand determines the name of its mature form: the 5p or 3p strand.
  • Non-standard way:These pathways use different combinations of proteins involved in the classical pathway, mainly Drosha, Dicer, exportin 5, and Argonaute 2. The precursor microRNAs produced by the Drosha/DGCR8-independent pathways resemble Dicer substrates. These nascent RNAs are directly exported to the cytoplasm via exportin 1 without the need for Drosha cleavage. There is a strong 3p chain bias as the m7G cap prevents loading the 5p chain on Argonaute.

To cause translational repression and mRNA de-adenylation and deprotection, microRNAs bind to specific regions in the 3' UTR of their target mRNAs. Other regions of mRNA have been shown to have microRNA binding sites, including regions within the 5' UTR, coding sequences, and promoters.

MicroRNAs that bind to the 5' UTR and coding regions have been shown to silence gene production, while those that contact promoter regions increase transcription.

(Video) What is microRNA (miRNA)?

Gene silencing with MiRISC

The leader strand and Argonaute constitute the minimal microRNA induced silencing complex (miRISC). The target specificity of miRISC is due to its interaction with complementary regions on the target mRNA, called microRNA response elements (MREs).

Argonaute 2 endonuclease activity is induced by complementary microRNA:microRNA response element interactions that control mRNA cleavage. However, this interaction disrupts the connection between Argonaute and the 3' end of the microRNA, leading to its degradation.

conversion activation

Although most researchers have focused on how microRNAs suppress gene expression, some researchers have also revealed that microRNAs upregulate gene expression. Argonaute 2 and another microRNA-protein (microRNA) complex-associated protein, fragile x mental retardation-associated protein 1, were shown to bind to the AU-rich region (ARE) of the 3' UTR to trigger translation in serum-starved cells.

Several microRNAs, including let-7, have been associated with Argonaute 2 and FXR1 to promote translation during cell cycle arrest, while repressing translation in proliferating cells. MicroRNAs have also been shown to upregulate gene expression in quiescent cells such as oocytes.

Argonaute 2 and FXR1 replace GW182 in microRNA-mediated translational activation. Additional examples of microRNA-mediated gene activation include binding to the 5' UTR of ribosomal protein-producing mRNAs during amino acid starvation, suggesting that microRNA-mediated elevated gene expression occurs under certain circumstances.

Gene regulation in the nucleus.

At transcriptionally active loci, miRISC regulates the rate of transcription and post-transcriptional levels of mRNA. Argonaute 2 travels between the nucleus and the cytoplasm through interaction with TNRC6A, a GW182 family protein that transmits nuclear localization and export signals.

MicroRNAs have also been shown to interact with enhancer-derived RNAs (eRNAs) at genomic loci to increase mRNA levels of neighboring genes by supporting a transcriptionally active chromatin state.

How do microRNAs work?

According to the research, microRNA-mediated gene regulation is dynamic and helps to stabilize gene expression. Functional compartmentalization and miRISC transport in cells are two factors that may contribute to resistance.

The abundance and availability of microRNAs and their target mRNAs are additional factors. MiRISCs have been discovered in many subcellular locations. Abundant at sites where transcription occurs, MiRISC can interact with DNA to make chromatin more or less active.

It can also interact with nascent mRNAs to induce different or more efficient splicing processes. P-bodies are cytoplasmic foci that lack ribosomes but are enriched for the enzymatic mRNA degradation machinery. They develop in an RNA-dependent manner as a result of RNAi and RNA degradation.

(Video) Gene Regulation and the Order of the Operon

β-body accumulation is miRISC-dependent and reversible after paclitaxeldeal withPolysome-coupled MiRISC:mRNA complexes show increased translational repression and mRNA degradation.

Polysomes are mRNA complexes that contain multiple translational ribosomes. This microRNA-dependent interaction allows microRNAs to rapidly adapt to changes in the subcellular environment. MicroRNAs dynamically and temporally control gene networks.

MicroRNAs support normal gene expression by damping transcriptional fluctuations. Surprisingly, microRNAs may play an important role in target-specific regulation and reduction of post-transcriptional expression noise.

MicroRNA dynamics and cellular gene expression network The total number of binding sites available on all target RNA molecules in a cell is called the microRNA response element load.

Modifying the microRNA response element charge can sequester miRISC from target mRNAs, leading to derepression of the target mRNA. A single mRNA can contain many microRNA response elements, resulting in different microRNA response element charges for different microRNAs. Low microRNA levels can be fixed by loading more related microRNAs into Argonaute, which makes RNAi work better.

Diseases such as tumorigenesis can affect the control of microRNAs in target mRNAs through highly coordinated microRNAs. MicroRNA synergy has also been used to develop drug strategies.

Upregulation of certain microRNAs in certain malignancies may work in concert to suppress CDKN1A. When conditions inside the cell change, such as when the cell is stressed or starved, miRISC location affects microRNA activity.

How do microRNAs circulate?

Extracellular microRNAs have the potential to be used as biomarkers for many diseases. Extracellular microRNAs can be transported to target cells and can alter cellular activity by acting as autocrine, paracrine, and endocrine regulators. In this sense, microRNAs exhibit properties similar to those of hormones.

circulation through biological fluids

Extracellular/circulating microRNAs are present in various body fluids, including plasma and serum, cerebrospinal fluid, saliva, breast milk, urine, tears, colostrum, peritoneal fluid, bronchial lavage fluid, semen and ovarian follicular fluid.

Unlike intracellular RNA species, extracellular microRNAs are highly stable. They do not degrade for up to 4 days at room temperature and can survive harsh conditions such as boiling, multiple freeze-thaw cycles, and high or low pH levels.

(Video) V. Narry Kim (IBS and SNU) 1: microRNA Biogenesis and Regulation

There are two populations of extracellular microRNAs in body fluids. The former is present in vesicles such as exosomes, microvesicles, and apoptotic bodies. The second has to do with protein, specifically Argonaute 2.

microRNA uptake and secretion

Some extracellular microRNAs are thought to be byproducts of cellular events, such as cell damage or death, but mounting evidence suggests that release is controlled.

Exosomal microRNAs are released via a ceramide-dependent mechanism, and the resulting microRNAs have growth-regulating effects on target cells.

For example, exosome-mediated transfer of miR-105 from metastatic breast cancer cells specifically targets the zonula occludens tight junction protein 1, disrupting endothelial barrier function and promoting metastasis.

MicroRNAs can act as chemical messengers in intercellular communication. MiR-21-3p produced from umbilical cord blood increases fibroblast proliferation and migration and triggers endothelial cell angiogenic activity, leading to rapid wound healing.

HDL-associated MiRs are taken up by the HDL receptor and the BI scavenging receptor on the plasma membrane of target cells. To determine the specificity of this interaction, the interaction between the microRNA and the recipient cell must be investigated.

people also ask

What is microRNA used for?

The term "microRNA" refers to molecules that help cells control the types and amounts of proteins they make. In other words, cells use microRNA to help regulate gene expression. MicroRNA molecules can be present in cells and in the circulation.

What is the difference between mRNA and MicroRNA?

Thus, one microRNA controls many mRNAs, and many microRNAs regulate one mRNA. The relationship between microRNAs and mRNAs for regulation or non-regulation is not one-to-one: there is a complex "many-to-many" correspondence.

What type of RNA is microRNA?

MicroRNA is a single-stranded RNA that is between 18 and 25 nucleotides in length. Instead of being translated into proteins, it is transcribed from DNA and influences the action of other genes involved in protein synthesis. Thus, microRNAs are genes that regulate the expression of other protein-coding genes.

How many microRNA do we humans have?

More than 2,000 microRNAs have been identified in humans and it is believed that together they control one third of the genes in the genome.

(Video) microRNA and their role in gene regulation

MicroRNAs are associated with a variety of human diseases and are being investigated as clinical diagnostic and therapeutic targets.

Where can I find MicroRNA?

Mature microRNAs are found in various subcellular locations in the cytoplasm, including RNA granules, inner membranes, and mitochondria, and are secreted extracellularly via exosomes.

Recent studies suggest that mature microRNAs may also translocate to the nucleus, where they may exert epigenetic regulatory functions.


Since their discovery in the 1990s, it has become clear that microRNAs are potent gene regulators that affect mRNA stability and translation and its function in transcription.

In vitro measurements of microRNA activity may not be representative of the cellular context and therefore should be interpreted with caution. The extent to which such data represent endogenous microRNA activity in vivo warrants further investigation.

MicroRNAs control host cell functions and are secreted and transported to cells of interest. Subcellular localization, microRNA abundance, and microRNA affinity are variables that influence microRNA activity.

Recent developments in single molecule imaging will have a significant impact on disciplines that have already started. Observing the movement of microRNAs and individual mRNAs with great precision in space and time will help us understand this complex process like never before.

About the Author

MicroRNA: an overview of its role in the regulation of gene expression (2)

(Video) RNAi: Gene Regulation via miRNAs & siRNAs

Dr. Cooney's Sheets- I believe that the correct diagnosis is the most important factor.


1. David Bartel (Whitehead Institute/MIT/HHMI) Part 1: MicroRNAs: Introduction to MicroRNAs
2. Noam Shomron - Dominant regulation of gene expression by microRNAs
3. Gene Silencing by microRNAs
(Katharina Petsche)
4. miRNA | micro RNA mechanism of gene silencing
(Shomu's Biology)
5. MicroRNAs and their regulatory effects
(NIH VideoCast)
6. Introduction to MicroRNA - Anna M. Krichevsky
(Serious Science)
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